The violence started after two immigrants were wounded when a number of white youths fired air rifles at them as they returned home from work.

'Strongly provoked'

Immigrants work in the area as day labourers picking fruit and vegetables, with some 1,500 living in squalid conditions in abandoned factories with no running water or electricity

Human rights activists say they are exploited by organised crime groups.

Agazio Loiero, governor of the Calabria region, told Sky TV that the violence was "unacceptable" but the migrants have been "strongly provoked".

Calabria is also the base of the international crime syndicate called 'ndrangheta.

The combination of ethnic strife and organised crime activity has sparked violence before among immigrant communities in southern Italy.

In 2008, migrants rioted in the Naples area after six Ghanians were murdered in a gangland-style shooting blamed on the local Camorra crime syndicate.